A tiny tile painting of an angel is tearing the art world apart after experts claim a detail unnoticed for 600 years proves it to be da Vinci’s earliest creation.
While cleaning out their house, a family in Italy happened upon a glazed terracotta tile, showing a profile image of the Archangel Gabriel.
After three years of investigating, historians revealed the words ‘da Vinci Leonardi’ and the date ‘1471’ in the angel’s jawline.
They believe the painting – which would have been created when da Vinci was just 18 – could be his earliest known work of art.
However, not everyone in the art world is buying it, including world renowned da Vinci expert Martin Kemp.
Many argue it is just the latest evidence of someone claiming to have discovered a new work by the Renaissance genius – something that happens almost every year, according to the Guardian.
‘The chance of it being by Leonardo is less than zero,’ Kemp, an emeritus professor of art history at Oxford University, told the Guardian. ‘The silly season for Leonardo never closes.’
Kemp pointed to the work’s ‘vermicelli like’ hair as a particularly unconvincing element of the portrait, noting that it compared ‘poorly’ to da Vinci’s The Annunciation.
The painting, believed to have been made in 1472 or 1473, is currently regarded as da Vinci’s earliest known work.
Still, art historian and expert Ernesto Solari, along with handwriting expert Ivana Rosa Bonfantino, say that infrared analysis confirms that it has ties to da Vinci.
Bontafino – who has analysed countless autographs by the artist – has argued that the smaller number one in the inscription is reminiscent of da Vinci’s handwriting.
‘We have done everything humanly possible to verify its provenance,’ Solari said, according to the Telegraph.
‘Science has provided us with concrete evidence that this work is by Leonardo da Vinci.
‘We have plenty of works produced by Leonardo in his later years, such as the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.
‘But this provides an insight into the artist as a very young man.’
The piece was given to the descendants of the aristocratic Fenice family of Ravello, Italy, by the Duchess of Amalfi in 1499.
The relic was recently presented in a glass case at a press conference in Rome.
‘Thankfully, [the family] realized it was something that shone a bit brighter than the other things they found when cleaning out the house, and that is when they called us,’ Solari explained, according to CNN.
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